Labour's teacher elite plan

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The Independent Online
LABOUR yesterday unveiled details of its plan for "superteachers" with advanced skills, one of the mainstays of the party's strategy for raising standards in schools.

David Blunkett, the Labour education spokesman, told a policy forum in Edinburgh yesterday that the advanced-skills teacher would be a well-paid academic who might teach in a number of schools as well as being linked to a university. Such a teacher would be one whose talents were too valuable to be lost through promotion onto the management ladder.

Under the plan, based on schemes already in place in Australia and the US, superteachers would try to impart their knowledge and skills to more junior teachers, he said.

They would be expected to undergo regular training to hone their skills and keep their knowledge up to date. Their salaries would be substantially higher than those of ordinary classroom teachers. A pilot project for the scheme would be run before it was implemented nationwide.

The plan was announced in June by Tony Blair, who said perhaps one or two teachers in each school achieved outstanding results which might qualify them for special status. Last week the Chief Inspector of Schools, Chris Woodhead, said 48,000 teachers across the country were judged excellent by inspectors.

The introduction of an elevated status for some or all of these will form one of the main planks of Labour's new policy on school standards, to be published next month.

Other plans under consideration include half an hour's homework per night for seven- year-olds, role models for disaffected youngsters, and tougher classroom discipline. The party will also implement a maximum class size for the five-to-seven age group and will start testing all pupils when they enter school at five.

Under Labour there would be a general teaching council to raise the status of the profession, and league tables would indicate how much a school had improved over a period.